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McElroy plays with an attitude

HOOVER – Casey McElroy is John Pawlowski’s kind of baseball player. Through the ups and downs of Pawlowski’s third Auburn season, McElroy has been a constant.

Casey McElroy is the first-team All-SEC shortstop

“Casey is an old-school ballplayer,” Pawlowski said. “He just shows up every day. He’s no frills. He just loves to play the game. He’s always played the game with a chip on his shoulder. That’s what drives him and makes him the player he is.”

Pawlowski’s fellow coaches agreed, naming McElroy the first-team All-Southeastern Conference shortstop. Auburn catcher Tony Caldwell was a second-team All-SEC selection.

McElroy, a shortstop by trade, has spent time at third base and second base when needed. At the plate, he leads the Tigers in hitting with a .370 average. He shares the team lead in home runs with eight. He leads in runs batted with 52 and in doubles with 18.

He does it all at 5-foot-8 and 179 pounds.

“My whole life I’ve been told I’m not big enough or fast enough or strong enough to play at the next level,” McElroy said. “I used that as motivation to play as a chip on my shoulder and prove them wrong.”

McElroy and his teammates will start today trying to write a happy to a season of almost lows as highs. The Tigers (29-27, 15-16), the No. 8 seed, will play South Carolina (42-8, 22-8), the No. 1 team in the nation and the No. 1 seed in the tournament, at 4:30 p.m. at Regions Park.

“Throughout the year, we’ve proved we can come back from anything,” said McElroy, a junior from Orlando. “We got swept two weeks in a row and came back and put a lot of wins together. There’s no telling what this team can do. We are definitely capable of going on a great run. Hopefully, we’ll get hot and keep it going.”

Whether Auburn’s last game this season will be McElroy last as a Tiger remains to be seen. He does not project as high draft pick.

“It’s too early to tell right now,” McElroy said. “I definitely would not be opposed to coming back to Auburn. I love it. It’s a great place to play.”

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